Home > Climate Change, IP > Technology Mechanism for Climate Change: Still in the Lab

Technology Mechanism for Climate Change: Still in the Lab

The first set of 2010 climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC concluded in Bonn, Germany (April 9-11th) with no progress apparent on the Technology Mechanism referenced in Paragraph 11 of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. 

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In fact, the only real outcome of the meeting appears to be an agreement to hold two additional meetings for both Advanced Working Groups on Long-Term Cooperative Action (LCA) the Kyoto Protocol, as well as for both of these groups to prepare draft texts to facilitate negotiations.  Conclusion for the LCA and Kyoto Protocol Working Groups are available here and here, respectively.

Although developing countries are pushing for legally binding commitments as an outcome of the December 2010 Conference of the Parties (COP) in Cancun, this does not appear likely. 

The Copenhagen Accord (the Accord), in particular the way in which it was negotiated, has led to what observers at Bonn are calling a sense of “deep distrust” at this past meeting between developed and developing countries.  Australia, on behalf of the “Umbrella Group,” stated that the Accord was a clear expression of political will to combat climate change and gave direction for future work.  However, many are concerned that the Accord would result in the end of the Kyoto Protocol.

Specifically, regarding the Technology Mechanism of the Accord, or “enhanced action on technology development and transfer” as it is being negotiated under the in the Working Group on LCA, several issues remain undecided, based on outside reports, including whether:

  • activities or outcomes of activities eligible for support can included “purchasing of licenses and other intellectual property (IP) issues”;
  • implementation of the technology mechanism shall be funded by new financial arrangements to meet the full incremental costs of compliance;
  • the mechanism should support removal of barriers to technology development and transfer and enhancing means to promote technology transfer;
  • the Technology Executive shall, among many other things, “address intellectual property issues as they arise”;

and most significantly – whether Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) will be mentioned in the text, and if so, whether:

  • International agreements on IP shall not be interpreted so as to prevent parties from taking measures to address mitigation or adaptation to climate change (e.g. Articles 30 and 31 of the TRIPS Agreement);
  • Global Technology Intellectual Property Pools for Climate Change are created;
  • Steps are taken to share publicly funded technologies and know-how;
  • Patents over environmentally-sound technologies for mitigation or adaptation are excluded from IP protection, including the revocation of any existing IP rights, in particular those that are publicly funded or those involving the use of genetic resources for mitigation or adaptation; or
  • A recommendation is made that international action be taken to remove barriers to technology development and transfer, including those arising from IP rights.

In short, negotiators still have a range of options for how they choose to deal with the IP issue.  Obviously, industrialized countries are on the side of not weakening IP protection, with developing countries pointing to past experiences with the refusal to license non-ozone depleting (non-CFC) propellants to India and Korea, as well as experiences with essential medicines under the WTO's TRIPS Agreement.  But, interlinked to technology transfer is the issue of financing – the details of which are still skeletal as well and perhaps dependent on what becomes of the Copenhagen Accord. 

The next intersessional meeting is currently scheduled for the 1st-11th of June 2010 in Bonn, with the two additional meetings to be held between then and the Mexico COP in December.

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